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William Maley

Quick Drive: 2016 Fiat 500C Abarth

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The last time I drove a Fiat 500C Abarth, it with six-speed automatic. I found it to be quite a cheeky vehicle with an exhaust note that makes you think you’re driving something a bit more powerful and a look that helped it stand out. But I couldn’t help but wonder how the Abarth is with the manual transmission. About a couple of months ago, I slipped behind the wheel of another 500C Abarth, this time with the manual. The end result was a bit of a letdown.

  • The manual transmission in question is a five-speed and it isn’t any fun to use. The throw is somewhat long and imprecise. A few times, I found myself going into the wrong gear because I couldn’t tell where I was in the gear pattern. Not helping matters is the clutch which not only has a long travel, but it isn’t easy to find the takeoff point. This is one of those vehicles where the automatic makes more sense.
  • The turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder produces 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. The engine is quite the performer with power coming on strong at low rpm. Engage the Sport mode and the engine becomes more spritely.
  • Some reviews criticize the 500 Abarth’s suspension for being a bit too soft for a performance model. I really don’t see that as I think the Abarth strikes a good balance between handling and ride comfort. Yes, the Abarth will show a little bit more body roll in the corners. But it doesn’t detract from the quick direction change the vehicle is able to pull off thanks to its short wheelbase. The ride is slightly bouncy over bumps, but it isn’t to the point of annoyance.
  • One area that the Abarth could use some improvement is in the steering. A little bit more road feel and weight would not be a bad thing for a performance hatch.
  • If you happen to be a shrinking violet, then pass on getting the yellow paint like on my tester. The level of ‘LOOK AT ME’ is turned up to 11.
  • Fiat will say the 500C is a convertible, but it is more of a targa - the roof rails and pillars stay up, and the canvas roof folds. But I do like that you can open or close it at speed.
  • Visibility must have a different meaning in Italian than English since the view from the rear is almost nonexistent with the top up or down.
  • The interior hasn’t changed much which is both good and bad. The good is the retro styling that adds a bit of charm. The bad are how the front seats feel like you're sitting on a stool. If there was a height adjustment for the seats or a telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel, this would ok. But since there isn’t, you’ll find yourself in a somewhat awkward seating position.
  • As for pricing, the 500C Abarth with the manual begins at $26,695. With options, the as-tested price came to $31,695. The automatic if you wondering adds $1,350 to the price.
  • But there is some good news over the horizon. Fiat will be cutting prices on a number of their models for 2017, with the biggest ones coming to the 500C. It might be worth waiting for the 2017 model since a lower price could make it slightly easier to convince yourself that you can live with something that is quite small, but packs a lot of character. But be sure to go with the automatic.

 

Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 500C Abarth, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2016
Make: Fiat
Model: 500C
Trim: Abarth
Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L 16-Valve MultiAir Four-Cylinder
Driveline: Five-Speed Manual, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 160 @ 5,500
Torque @ RPM: 170 @ 2,500-4,000 
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/34/30
Curb Weight: 2,545 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Toluca, Mexico
Base Price: $26,695
As Tested Price: $31,965 (Includes $995 Destination Charge)

Options:
17-inch Forged Aluminum Hyper Black Wheels - $1,400.00
Popular Equipment Package - $975.00
Beats Audio Package - $700.00
Giallo Moderna Perla (Modern Pearl Yellow) - $500.00
Nero (Black) Mirror Cap with Body Side Stripe - $450.00
Nero (Black) Trimmed Lights - $250.00


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I know some will love this little Italian Job, but for me, :puke: 

IMHO!

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1 hour ago, dfelt said:

I know some will love this little Italian Job, but for me, :puke: 

IMHO!

You and I have very different tastes in vehicles.....!:D

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28 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

32K!?!?!?! No wonder they're slashing prices!! My GTI SE w/ Perf Pkg MSRP'd for that, and it's WAY more car than this thing.

The Abarth is a deal used at 10 or 11K, which is where one can find them late model with low miles if one looks.

The GTI is an actual real automobile....

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the Abarth only excels when it's a barebones affair.

lose the ragtop, the (kinda not great) 'beats' system, superfluous equipment packages and exorbitant visual tack-ons and it becomes the perky, down n' dirty runabout it ought to be. 

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4 minutes ago, bigpoolog said:

the Abarth only excels when it's a barebones affair.

lose the ragtop, the (kinda not great) 'beats' system, superfluous equipment packages and exorbitant visual tack-ons and it becomes the perky, down n' dirty runabout it ought to be. 

Agreed....and I kind of like the car in some ways.....

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I really like the Abarth and the base turbo (IMHO, kill the base NA 4).  Give the little sucker a 6 speed, interior update, and at least new front/rear fascias and it will be a better car. 

  • Upvote 1

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1 minute ago, Stew said:

I really like the Abarth and the base turbo (IMHO, kill the base NA 4).  Give the little sucker a 6 speed, interior update, and at least new front/rear fascias and it will be a better car. 

Or at the very least better build quality....

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9 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

Or at the very least better build quality....

That too haha, but I don't think the thing has been updated since it first came out in Europe how many years ago now?

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28 minutes ago, Stew said:

That too haha, but I don't think the thing has been updated since it first came out in Europe how many years ago now?

Agreed!

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23 minutes ago, surreal1272 said:

So many more, and better, choices for $32K. Just a whole lot of "nope" there.

At this point, the compelling arguments in the sport compact segment are the GTI and WRX....with the Civic SI a distant third.

In terms of pure sports cars, the only real game in town is the Miata below 30 or 35K....370 Z is very dated....

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4 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

At this point, the compelling arguments in the sport compact segment are the GTI and WRX....with the Civic SI a distant third.

In terms of pure sports cars, the only real game in town is the Miata below 30 or 35K....370 Z is very dated....

And I would take any of them, including the 370Z, over this. It's ugly on the outside, even uglier on the inside, and an unreliable pile of top of that. That is the perfect recipe for never getting a dime from me.

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7 minutes ago, surreal1272 said:

And I would take any of them, including the 370Z, over this. It's ugly on the outside, even uglier on the inside, and an unreliable pile of top of that. That is the perfect recipe for never getting a dime from me.

Again, the only sport compacts I could see dropping a dime for would be the WRX, GTI, Miata and BRZ/86.

Everything else can just pound so much sand for all I care....even the Civic SI really really leaves a lot to be desired IMHO.

Edited by A Horse With No Name
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Just now, Stew said:

They could modifiy this platform for this

 

dodge-hornet-concept-11.jpg

There is no limit to the creative ideas they could get flowing....but it will never happen due to Sergio and a lack of interest in the US market.

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    • By William Maley
      I have been on record of not liking the 2.0L turbo-four Lexus uses in a number of their vehicles. Previous reviews have highlighted the horrendous turbo lag and power falling off a cliff after a certain point on the rpm band. But after spending a week with the 2017 Lexus GS 200t, I found that Lexus may have fixed one of the big issues with this engine.
      A quick refresher on the turbo 2.0L. The engine has ratings of 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission on offer. The engine feels quite punchy when the boost kicks in as it moves the 3,805 pound sedan without breaking a sweat. Another positive is how quiet and refined the engine is during acceleration and at cruise. There are a couple of downsides. As I mentioned in the RC 200t review, the engine does run out of steam at higher rpms which makes merging onto a freeway slightly tricky. The transmission programming in the ‘Normal’ drive mode leans heavily towards boosting fuel economy with rapid upshifts and slow downshifts. This was easily remedied by putting the GS into the ‘Sport’ drive mode. EPA fuel economy figures for the GS 200t at 22 City/32 Highway/26 Combined. I only averaged a very disappointing 19.2 mpg for the week. A lot of this can be attributed to the cold snap where the high temperature at the times was around 10 to 15 degrees. This meant I was running the vehicle at idle for a fair amount of time to warm it up. The GS 200t’s suspension provides a mostly smooth ride with only a couple of bumps making their way inside. Road and wind noise are almost nonexistent. I cannot really comment on the GS 200t’s handling as most of the roads were snow-covered during the week and the Michelin GreenX tires were more keen on spinning in the snow than actually getting the car moving. A set of all-seasons or snow tires would have done wonders for it. Reading through some other reviews, the consensus seems to be the GS shows little body roll and has decent steering weight. Lexus updated the GS’ styling back in 2016 with a revised front end, complete with a spindle grille and upside-down eyelash LED lighting. I’m usually not a fan of the standard insert for the spindle grille - like the mesh insert on the F-Sport. But I will admit the slat grille on this particular model works quite well. Other changes include new wheels (18-inches on our tester) and taillights. The interior hasn’t really changed since I last drove the GS back in 2013. In certain respects, this is ok. The design still holds up with the brushed-metal accents and textured black trim. Material quality is top notch as well with many surfaces being covered in soft-touch plastics and leather. Seating offers the right amount of support and comfort needed for long trips. The only downside is the large transmission tunnel that eats into rear legroom. The GS still uses the first-generation Lexus Enform infotainment system, complete with the joystick controller. The controller is a pain to use with an inconsistent feeling when using it to move around the system. At times, you’ll find yourself either overshooting or not selecting the function because of the vague feeling provided by the controller. This hurts an otherwise pretty good system with a modern design and large 12.3-inch screen with the ability of split-screen viewing. The base price of the 2017 GS 200t is $46,310. Our test vehicle came equipped with a few options such as navigation, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, power trunk, and 18-inch wheels that raised the price to a very reasonable $52,295. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the GS 200t, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Lexus
      Model: GS
      Trim: 200t
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve with Dual VVT-iW
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 241 @ 5,800
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,650-4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/26
      Curb Weight: 3,805 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $46,310
      As Tested Price: $52,295 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge and $1,730 Navigation Package Credit)
      Options:
      Navigation w/12.3-inch screen with Lexus Enform - $1,730.00
      Premium Package - $1,400.00
      Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System - $1,380.00
      18" All Season Tires - $905.00
      Intuitive Park Assist - $500.00
      Illuminated Door Sills - $425.00
      One-Touch Power Trunk - $400.00

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    • By William Maley
      I have been on record of not liking the 2.0L turbo-four Lexus uses in a number of their vehicles. Previous reviews have highlighted the horrendous turbo lag and power falling off a cliff after a certain point on the rpm band. But after spending a week with the 2017 Lexus GS 200t, I found that Lexus may have fixed one of the big issues with this engine.
      A quick refresher on the turbo 2.0L. The engine has ratings of 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission on offer. The engine feels quite punchy when the boost kicks in as it moves the 3,805 pound sedan without breaking a sweat. Another positive is how quiet and refined the engine is during acceleration and at cruise. There are a couple of downsides. As I mentioned in the RC 200t review, the engine does run out of steam at higher rpms which makes merging onto a freeway slightly tricky. The transmission programming in the ‘Normal’ drive mode leans heavily towards boosting fuel economy with rapid upshifts and slow downshifts. This was easily remedied by putting the GS into the ‘Sport’ drive mode. EPA fuel economy figures for the GS 200t at 22 City/32 Highway/26 Combined. I only averaged a very disappointing 19.2 mpg for the week. A lot of this can be attributed to the cold snap where the high temperature at the times was around 10 to 15 degrees. This meant I was running the vehicle at idle for a fair amount of time to warm it up. The GS 200t’s suspension provides a mostly smooth ride with only a couple of bumps making their way inside. Road and wind noise are almost nonexistent. I cannot really comment on the GS 200t’s handling as most of the roads were snow-covered during the week and the Michelin GreenX tires were more keen on spinning in the snow than actually getting the car moving. A set of all-seasons or snow tires would have done wonders for it. Reading through some other reviews, the consensus seems to be the GS shows little body roll and has decent steering weight. Lexus updated the GS’ styling back in 2016 with a revised front end, complete with a spindle grille and upside-down eyelash LED lighting. I’m usually not a fan of the standard insert for the spindle grille - like the mesh insert on the F-Sport. But I will admit the slat grille on this particular model works quite well. Other changes include new wheels (18-inches on our tester) and taillights. The interior hasn’t really changed since I last drove the GS back in 2013. In certain respects, this is ok. The design still holds up with the brushed-metal accents and textured black trim. Material quality is top notch as well with many surfaces being covered in soft-touch plastics and leather. Seating offers the right amount of support and comfort needed for long trips. The only downside is the large transmission tunnel that eats into rear legroom. The GS still uses the first-generation Lexus Enform infotainment system, complete with the joystick controller. The controller is a pain to use with an inconsistent feeling when using it to move around the system. At times, you’ll find yourself either overshooting or not selecting the function because of the vague feeling provided by the controller. This hurts an otherwise pretty good system with a modern design and large 12.3-inch screen with the ability of split-screen viewing. The base price of the 2017 GS 200t is $46,310. Our test vehicle came equipped with a few options such as navigation, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, power trunk, and 18-inch wheels that raised the price to a very reasonable $52,295. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the GS 200t, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Lexus
      Model: GS
      Trim: 200t
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve with Dual VVT-iW
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 241 @ 5,800
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,650-4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/26
      Curb Weight: 3,805 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $46,310
      As Tested Price: $52,295 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge and $1,730 Navigation Package Credit)
      Options:
      Navigation w/12.3-inch screen with Lexus Enform - $1,730.00
      Premium Package - $1,400.00
      Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System - $1,380.00
      18" All Season Tires - $905.00
      Intuitive Park Assist - $500.00
      Illuminated Door Sills - $425.00
      One-Touch Power Trunk - $400.00
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